The Georgia Court of Appeals has dismissed the discretionary appeal application of Bradley Forrister, who was terminated from his position as police chief in 2009.
The order, filed Wednesday, reads that the court has dismissed the appeal application, saying it had been “improvidently granted,” meaning it was granted rashly without much consideration.
E. Alan Miller, the attorney who is handling the matter for the city, said he considers the dismissal a victory, saying it validates the decisions of former Mayor Sue Bloodworth and the City Council that unanimously affirmed her termination of Forrister.
The Court of Appeals decision effectively makes it impossible for Forrister to continue to appeal a decision given in Carroll County Superior Court in December 2011, in which Judge Quillian Baldwin denied the plaintiff’s petition for writ of certiorari, or discretionary review.
Forrister’s legal representation, Carrollton attorney Gary Bunch, could not be reached for comment Friday.
Miller said that once the appeal was granted by the Court of Appeals, Forrister filed a brief with the court, after which the city of Mt. Zion filed a response, to which the defendant then replied. Once those briefs were filed, sometime in the summer, the record was given to the court, which took a few months to decide to dismiss the application.
“We’re very happy about it,” Miller said. “I feel like justice has been achieved and that it was a fair decision. After reviewing the briefs, the court decided that it should have never even been brought up.”
As for future avenues Forrister has to appeal the matter further, Miller said they are limited.
“He could file a motion for reconsideration, but those are extremely difficult to get granted,” Miller said. “And he could take it to the Georgia Supreme Court for discretionary review, but I’ve never seen the Supreme Court hear something denied by the Court of Appeals.”
Bunch argued in February that his client was denied important rights during his termination hearing in the city, when Bloodworth refused to testify as a witness. Bloodworth has since relinquished her position with the city, having chosen not to seek re-election last year. Randy Sims is the current mayor.
“We have the right to examine the mayor because she is the person that actually terminated Police Chief Forrister, and she is the one that basically made the allegations he violated the Code of Conduct,” Bunch said at the hearing.
The plaintiff also takes issue with the city’s conduct at the hearing when it did not disclose documents Bunch said were pertinent to the City Council’s unanimous decision to terminate Forrister from his position.
In September 2009, Forrister was officially terminated from his position for “willfully giving false statements to supervisors, officials or to the public.”
Following his firing, Mt. Zion Police Officer Steve Miller was appointed chief by the Mt. Zion City Council.
In March 2009, Forrister allegedly received a phone call from a Mt. Zion resident who had found herself arrested for public drunkenness in Douglas County.
Forrister asserted that he had a fellow Mt. Zion police officer, Michael Dobbs, call the Douglasville Police Department for the terms of the woman’s arrest, not to encourage police there to drop the woman’s charges, as asserted by the city of Mt. Zion.
Miller said that contrary to the plaintiff’s claim, it is the city’s belief that Forrister was guilty of using his influence to have the woman’s charges dropped, and when he was questioned about it by Bloodworth, he attempted to conceal the truth.
“He was giving them a favor and then not owning up to it,” Miller said earlier this year. “We’re not going to change our position. His appeal to the council was denied and Judge Baldwin dismissed his complaint. We were successful in having this case dismissed and we plan to continue to defend the city during his appeal and we hopefully have the same result.”
Bunch said in February that the Court of Appeals’ decision to accept the application was exceedingly rare, and was a major step forward in achieving the ultimate goal of returning Forrister to his original position with the city of Mt. Zion.
“Very few of those [applications] are granted, probably less than 10 percent,” Bunch said at the time, when the matter was still pending. “We basically got past that hurdle and now we can start the regular appeal process.”
Forrister’s replacement, Steve Miller, is also embroiled in a legal investigation currently, being put on administrative leave with pay for allegedly providing false information on a number of documents for the Georgia Peace Officers Standards and Training council.
Dep. Chief Brian Sims, the mayor’s brother, is currently acting as interim police chief for the city.